Just how dangerous is a rifle shell without the gun? The physics for a firearm to function to its full potential is reliant on the pressure that builds up from gas from the burned gunpowder. The chamber and barrel contain the pressure and focus the bullet down the barrel at a high rate of speed, but what happens when you do not contain the pressure?
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A rifle shells casing is made of soft brass which is metal but it is nowhere close to having the strength of the hardened steel of the chamber and barrel. That being said, the casing will focus some pressure on the bullet, the question is will it be enough to make the bullet dangerous?
TOUFLEDERMOUS wanted to know the answer to that question so they rigged up a .50 BMG shell to a shotgun shell perimeter alarm and set it off. Using high-speed cameras you can see the casing rip apart sending shrapnel the bullet into the teddy bear.
You can tell a lot of powder is wasted on the shot because you can see it sitting on the table which means that the shell did not preform to its full potential without the gun, which is to be expected. However, the exploding shell still packs a punch and I would not want to be anywhere near it when it explodes.